advice on potential London to Kent move

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    We are looking at a potential move to Kent or Surrey and could really use some advice on areas and other practicalities to consider (neither of us are born in the UK or have family here so it’s all a bit daunting where to even start!)

    A bit of information about us:
    – we are both professionals working in London Bridge and Holborn. We would want to commute to these locations within an hour door to door.

    – we have two children, a 4 and a 2 year old. The 4 year old has started reception in our outstanding local primary in London so we do need some good school options.

    – while I drive, my husband does not so we would need to be close enough to station, town centre and have good bus services

    – we do not need to be in the best, most expensive areas, but we do enjoy having some restaurants and cafes nearby as well as some shopping and entertainment facilities. We’re ok to be in an area with plans for redevelopment and we like some ethnic diversity.

    – Our budget is about 350K and we need 3 bedrooms

    A few specific questions about a potential move:
    1. Since our daughter has started primary already, will it be very difficult to get her into a good school in another year?
    2. Which areas could you recommend for us? We’ve looked at Dartford (a bit rough?, concern about schools) Orpington (seems nice enough, options for schools), Bromley (can’t aford nicest areas, not sure about schools).
    3. We have a property to sell in London. How would/did you go about house hunting being based in London? It’s difficult to go to viewings every weekend. Did you narrow down the location and then only go for viewings if you’e sure it’s close to what you want?
    4.we have been using Rightmove to get a feel for houses and areas, do you have other recommendations of useful tools and websites?



    Dear Kristel

    Our office is based in Cranbrook, Kent. It may be a little further out than your original search but would definately be worth considering. The area is largely rural with a few good market towns and lots of pretty villages. There is much for a family to enjoy in the area and I personally would highly recommend this as a place to bring up children. The commute time is just under an hour from Marden Station to London Bridge. You may find this are offers better value for money than Orpington for instance. The schooling in Kent is very good indeed, we still have the grammar school system. For instance, Cranbrook School is the ONLY state grammar school in the country that is 13+, co-educational and caters for both day and boarding students – see their website for further information: There are a selection of very good primary schools in the area as well. Rightmove is an excellent resource but we would also recommend registering with On The Market and Zoopla. We would recommend carefully researching your choice of area to narrow down your search before commencing viewings. Otherwise you may be bombarded with too much information initially.

    Kind regards, Gail at Jackson-Stops & Staff, Cranbrook



    Morning Kristel,

    I would be happy to have a conversation with you about your move. I have lived, and worked, in Bromley, Crayford (Near Dartford) and have lots of experience of Orpington.

    I now live, and run my business from Rochester which is a great town with good schools, transport links and a wonderful history but do lots of business in Sevenoaks as well as London.

    There are many areas of Kent that I know well and can chat to you about a few if you would like to give me a call.

    All the best,
    07971 904904
    Managing Director
    Oliver’s London



    Leatherhead fits your bill. Not the best or most expensive area, but choc full of restaurants and cafes, with its own Theatre/cinema & nearby theatres in Guildford, Kingston and Woking (and of course London).
    Taking your questions in reverse order Kristel, and having moved out of London myself, I would say:
    4. Make your needs known to a really good estate agent (such as Patrick Gardner & Co – Leatherhead 01372 360078) They will feed you suitable properties to view in your limited time.
    3. There is an excellent indoor children’s soft play area and swimming pool in the Leatherhead leisure centre (ample parking). Take your children there to burn off some energy and have a snack lunch in the café so you can have some fun and relaxation as a family on your property viewing days.
    2. Leatherhead is a diverse town. So are its properties and those of the large villages of Ashtead, Fetcham and Great Bookham on either side. If you find prices too steep you can swing slightly further south to more traditional Dorking, set amidst beautiful Surrey countryside, think Box Hill, Leith Hill.
    1. Excellent infant and middle schools in Leatherhead for your children and plenty of capacity see Trinity School Leatherhead (state) and Downsend (private)
    And if you need a really good property solicitor to handle your conveyancing give me a call Julie West Solicitor 01372 383273



    Kristel hello.

    Let me deal with some of your last questions about how do you go about it?

    Clearly you wish to move out. You have identified Kent and Surrey. Kent will for sure be the cheapest option but Surrey has more nice places to live possibly.

    You mention a sum of £350K How did you arrive at that? The best way to know if it’s accurate is this process.

    1. Have your existing property valued by 3 agents to get a cross-section of ideas. Press them for the price they think you will “get” not just “ask’

    2. Find out if they think there is anything specific needing doing to it to make it more saleable and valuable.

    3. If you need a mortgage check out with an Independent Broker, not direct with a bank or building society,just what options are out there for you. They can search the whole of market where a single lender will only offer you their products. MY mortgage services director is Chris pain. He is a true expert on property finance. It costs nothing to speak with him

    4. When you have these two pieces of advice, you then can factor in how much you are looking to spend on your next purchase. Don’t forget the costs of moving. Agents selling fees (PLEASE PLEASE don’t pick the cheapest – it will coast you money not save you. Pick the agent you feel most confident will represent you strongly when selling and negotiating. IT’s NEVER the cheapest one) Legals, Stamp Duty and removals.

    Now you will know your buying power.

    You now need to narrow down where you are going to search, otherwise it will take you forever and you will be retiring before you find a location/property.

    Rightmove is good tool to get a feel for property prices in areas but it doesn’t give you any “feel” for what a place has/is. So once you find some areas where your commuting can be catered for,house prices look like you can buy what you need to live in and that there are some acceptable schools, THEN actually go and spend time in those areas,getting a feel for them. Go and meet the local agents and draw some local knowledge from them. get some information on the schools. has a fantastic schools locator facility for Surrey.

    Now there is a structure and a shape coming together for your move. assuming the areas you have researched have properties in your price range, the next thing to do is decide upon your timescale for a move.It’s impossible to predict how long a move will take. It would be my very strong recommendation that you then place your property on the market to find a buyer,before settling on your next property.That way, you are not under pressure to take a reduced offer. In this situation, it would need to be explained to your buyers that your move is subject to your finding a replacement property. They then can decide if they wish/can wait for you.

    You will find this gives you real motivation to go hunting as you are now in a position to actually buy!! Agents will be far keener to deal with you and sellers will be more encouraged to either favour you over less able buyers, or even agree a bit of a discount if they are in a hurry and you can move quickly.

    I hope this is of help. You can email me any time at if you would like any more help. And if you decide on Surrey, through my 21 offices i am sure I can help you. However I have a feeling Kent may be the county you wills settle in. All the above advice is still valid for Kent !! Good luck.




    Hi Kristel, Kent would be a great location for you! It would certainly be easy to commute to London Bridge. Locations such as Hildenbrough, Tonbridge and Southborough are a bit cheaper than the neighbouring towns of Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells, so your budget will stretch further. These locations are very family friendly, with a good choice of super primary schools and you can commute to London Bridge from both Hildenborough and Tonbridge Stations. You would need to contact the schools directly to find out whether they have a Year 1 place for your 4 year old. I would do this in priority to anything else as the availability of a school place at your preferred school will dictate where you live.

    In terms of looking for a property, I would put your London home on the market before you start to view any properties. The logistics of viewing properties at the weekend when you don’t live in the area and have two young children are tricky.Often this is one of the reasons why families get in touch with me…. my business is helping people to move house. By being your ears and eyes on the ground it means you don’t have to keep coming down to Kent viewing properties which are unsuitable. I carry out initial viewings on your behalf, give you advice on areas, whether a property represents good value for money, assisting you with sorting out a mortgage via my independent mortgage adviser and generally steering you in the right direction. Please do get in touch if you would like to have a chat:t:01580 713825



    Hi Kristel,

    As other responses have suggested, you will find Kent more affordable than Surrey and I think that North Kent would be a great place to start your search as you are likely to get more for your money there.

    Dartford is a good place to start – it’s close to London (just over half an hour on the train), it has bars and restaurants and is quite ethnically diverse. It’s also very close to Bluewater shopping centre, where you can find pretty much everything.

    But if you want somewhere with a bit more character then Rochester would be my suggestion. The journey to London Bridge is only 40 minutes and Rochester station is currently being expanded to accommodate more commuter trains. Plus there is quite a lot of new housing development within walking distance of the station which may suit. Rochester has some great bars, shops and restaurants, most of which are independents.

    There are other towns along the same train line that might be worth considering, but I think Dartford and Rochester would be where I would suggest starting your search as they tick your boxes for a suitable commute, properties within walking distance of the station and a good selection of bars etc.

    As for schools in that part of Kent – North Kent has many outstanding grammar schools with excellent reputations. The primary schools tend to be more mixed, I would suggest you use something like to see what the schools are like in the areas you are interested in (there’s a great map that gives you a very easy visual on the schools in an area).

    I hope this helps – good luck with your search.



    You could try West Wickham (BR4 postcode). It’s on the Hayes line with direct trains to London Bridge and Charing Cross. Two good primary schools, Hawes Down and Pickhurst.

    Thinking ahead need to make sure you are in catchment area of Langly Boys and Langley Girls schools for secondary education. (Both have quite small catchment areas and property prices are reflected in promixity to this schools). Bromley also has grammar schools. Croydon does not, but has good independent schools if that is something you are considering in the future.

    W. Wickham a decent Hight street with a range of restaurants and is not far from Bromley and Beckenham where there are even more restaurants and shops. There are two Sainsbury’s and a small M & S in W. Wickham and a Lidl is under construction. There’s a Waitrose in Beckenham and a larger M & S there. Large Tesco in Elmers End which is not too far away.

    Bromley has a large Shopping Centre called Intu Bromley. Croydon has decent Whitgift shopping centre, but this is being re-developed into large Westfield. This will take several years.

    Cinemas in Bromley, Beckenham and Croydon.

    For theatre, Churchill Theatre in Bromley and Fairfields Hall in Croydon, but latter will close down for a couple of years for refurbishment.

    Hope this helps



    Hi Kristel,

    My husband and I moved to Greenhithe, North Kent 12 years ago after what was supposed to be a random Christmas shopping trip to Bluewater Shopping Centre! We moved from a 1 bedroom rented flat in St. John’s Wood to a 3 bedroom house with a garden! Since moving here, we have 2 children now and of which the one goes to a good school up the road and the other at an outstanding nursery a little further down the road.
    Having Bluewater right next door is fantastic as there is no parking charge EVER, and provides lots of cafes and restaurants as well as entertainment.
    Not too far by car there are many options for entertaining in the region with lots of activities to suit the whole family.
    At first when we moved here, I was working full time and felt isolated in the evenings and weekends but there has been so much development around here that its become lovely.
    I do admit there are some rough areas, as there would be in any towns and proper rural countryside is a short drive away if you need it.
    Happy to provide further details…
    Kind regards,

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